Thursday, October 14, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: East Hampton Clam Chowder

I love clam chowder. LOVE IT. I'm sure part of it stems from growing up in Seattle which is home to some of the world's best clam chowder. Or at least I think it's some of the best. I'm sure there are a few cities in the Northeast that claim to have the best, and I'm sure there are some there that are quite good, but I'm biased. I'm okay with that.

As much as I love clam chowder, I don't think I've ever tried to make my own. I was pretty excited when I saw that Laura from Family Spice Home had chosen Ina's East Hampton Clam Chowder as the Barefoot Blogger's first recipe for October. Technically if I stick to my diet it's not something I'm supposed to have because of the potatoes, milk, and flour, but it's not like I'm going to eat the whole pot of it.

East Hampton Clam Chowder
From Barefoot Contessa Family Style, 2002, All Rights Reserved

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups medium-diced celery (4 stalks)
2 cups medium-diced carrots (6 carrots)
4 cups peeled medium-diced boiling potatoes (8 potatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 quart (4 cups) clam juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
3 cups chopped fresh chowder clams (1 1/2 pounds shucked clams)

Melt 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of the butter in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add the celery, carrots, potatoes, thyme, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 more minutes. Add the clam juice, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

In a small pot, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and whisk in the flour. Cook over very low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in a cup of the hot broth and then pour this mixture back into the cooked vegetables. Simmer for a few minutes until the broth is thickened.

Add the milk and clams and heat gently for a few minutes to cook the clams. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.


Since it's still in the 90-degree range here for the daily high temperature I decided to cut the recipe in half. Who wants to be eating a steaming bowl of chowder when it's still hot outside? Plus I didn't think the boys would really eat it, and I can't eat a ton of it so I can keep getting skinny. I mention this so you can avoid a potentially very big mistake that I made. Make sure you cut all the ingredients in half. Like...don't put in the full amount of flour when you're only supposed to do half of what is listed. Of course I realized this after I had the roux going and couldn't figure out why it wasn't melting down more once I added in the broth. D'oh! I ended up pulling out some of it, adding more butter, and I used canned clams so I put the juice from their cans in with the roux. I think that managed to salvage it.

Having never bought canned clams before (although I should do it more because my uncle makes an awesome clam dip, and I bet since I'm his favorite niece he'd give me the recipe), I didn't realize how absolutely tiny chopped clams would be. Yikes. They were minced as fine as garlic. I'd much prefer chunks of clams in my chowder, but that's my own mistake.

The recipe itself is really tasty. Not as good as some of the chowder restaurants in Seattle, but given that this was my first attempt at making it on my own, I was pretty pleased. The husband sampled it as well and rated it highly. It was relatively easy to put together, too. I gave myself an hour for it, and that's about how long it took, but I was also working on something else in the kitchen, so I wasn't completely focused on the chowder.

This is definitely better than any canned chowder I've tasted, and really it's better than most chowders I get here in Phoenix. If I get them, which is rare since the quality is generally subpar. When I get a hankering for chowder and flying to Seattle for chowder from Totem House or Ivar's is out of the question, this will definitely be my go-to recipe.

Clam juice. Interestingly enough, my mom was asking recently where to buy clam juice. Mom, it's with the canned meats. Safeway and Fresh & Easy both carried it, but it was about half the price at F&E!

Mmmmm...bowl of chowder. Normally I like it with extra pepper and oyster crackers mixed in, but this time I just had it plain.


Jen B. said...

This looks really good. I will have to remember this recipe when the weather cools down. Yum!

heather said...

yum! i just made a version last week and i had one husband had 3!

the chopped clams(at least here) had bigger chunks, i wish i had gotten the minced, like you mentioned b/c i don't like big chucks.